Sudbury Food Bank updates guidelines for new users
SUDBURY -- The Sudbury Food Bank has put out new guidelines for first time food bank users as they prepare for an increase in demand with COVID-19.
"What we're anticipating, because there have been layoffs over the last three weeks, people had some money... but there is going to be an increased need for food," said Deb McIntosh, Sudbury City Councillor.
According to Dan Xilon, the executive director at Sudbury Food Bank, the increase in demand is already being seen.
Xilon says one food bank, which normally serves 20 people a day, is now serving about 50 people a day, or 220 people per week.
Ward 9 councillor, McIntosh says the first step for new users is finding out which food bank is in your area by either visiting the website or calling the Ontario Community and Social Services Help Line at 2-1-1.
At each visit, users will need to provide their name and postal code along with a piece of identification or a bill or piece of mail from government that confirms the name and postal code. However, McIntosh says they are trying to help everyone during this pandemic.
"We don't want someone who is homeless or couch surfing that doesn't have any ID to not be able to access the food bank. So we're asking those people to please phone their local food bank."
Xilon says a lot of people are in the same situation right now.
"Two weeks ago you were working, then as of 12 o'clock Tuesday, night you weren't," said Xilon. "Many Canadians, myself included, are pay cheque to pay cheque people. So all of a sudden bang, you aren't going to work Wednesday... 'well what am I going to do?'"
McIntosh says with how quickly things are changing in the midst of COVID-19, the regulations at the food banks are also constantly updating.
"The way things used to work, you'd go to the food bank maybe once a month. Some of the food banks now are still at once a month and some have moved to twice a month. And as we go through this crisis things may change again," the Sudbury councillor said.
McIntosh is encouraging all users to check the website and call ahead to see what needs to be done upon arrival. For example, some places are bringing the already packaged bags out to the car, while others are asking users to come in one at a time.
Although officials don't know how long the food bank will be impacted by COVID-19, they expect the increased demand to continue, at least until the fall.
"I imagine the need will continue for a while, even after (COVID-19) because it's going to take a while for everything o ramp back up again. People are going to be behind on some of their payments, it's going to take a while," said McIntosh.
Volunteers at the food bank are practicing physical distancing and wiping down surfaces between pick-ups to help keep everyone safe during this time.